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NAIAS 2017 | Chevrolet Bolt Charges to North American Car of the Year

The Chevrolet Bolt's potential battery range of 238 miles drove it to the title of North American Car of the Year at NAIAS 2017.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

News on the various vehicles of the year awards broke this morning at NAIAS 2017, and — while the winner of Car of the Year was no surprise — the pick isn’t without a little of controversy. The new Chevrolet Bolt took that crown due to its groundbreaking electric vehicle range of more than 230 miles on a single charge.

It’s victory was predicted by most automotive industry experts as that range should be a game changer for the transition from fossil fuel to electric vehicles. Indeed, matched up against the vehicles it beat (the vastly more compelling Genesis G90 and Volvo S90), it’s clear the Bolt won Car of the Year for what it represents for the future more so than what the car is for 2017.

Also: NAIAS 2017 | Ford Brings Bronco, Ranger Back to Its Lineup

The grumblings here at NAIAS 2017 have nothing to do with the Bolt’s credentials or deservedness. Though these awards came down here in Detroit today circa early 2017, the vehicles nominated were on the road for 2016 – except the Bol had very limited availability last year. It had a sort of token release as Chevy built more to sell in 2017.

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That’s the equivalent of a movie sneaking out around Christmas so it can still be in Oscar consideration for the year. So, the award is a bit of a bait and switch for buyers looking to grab a Bolt fresh off its big win. Good luck finding one for a while.

The category winners were the Honda Ridgeline as a surprise champ for North American Truck of the Year, while the Chrysler Pacifica somehow beat out the sublime Jaguar F-Pace to win Utility Vehicle of the Year.